Capstone/Dissertation Title

The influence of wall partitions on visitors' behaviors in science centers

Term

2008

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Abstract

This study looked at the relevance of physical environments to learning in informal learning settings. The research question addressed whether or not the presence of space-defining walls influenced visitors' behaviors at exhibits. A tracking and timing study was done at Explora Science Center and Children's Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Holding time at exhibits, total time in the exhibit area, and demographic information were noted for the 204 study participants. The study took place in an exhibit area which included 10 exhibits. For half of the study, 17 wall partitions were removed from the area. In the with-wall condition, the median holding time for individuals at an exhibit was 172 percent higher than in the no-wall condition. The presence of walls increased holding time at exhibits for visitors regardless of their age, sex, or museum membership status. At Explora the presence of walls did influence visitors' behaviors at exhibits.

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